Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Awesome Embroidery Design Resource!


What a find! Here’s a terrific resource for designs for hand embroidery. This is a site with all kinds of good design ideas on it! I don’t usually get over excited about resources for embroidery patterns, but this one is really good!

Keep in mind, this site is not specifically an “embroidery” website – rather, it’s a clip art and image site, but it is chock full of perfect images that can be adapted for embroidery. The site is hosted by the University of South Florida, and it’s called Clipart ETC. At Clipart ETC you will find a searchable database of all kinds of images, which are presented in three sizes – small, medium, and large. You can also download a printable tif file for each image.

When you go to Clipart ETC, click on the “search database” link. Here, you can perform a keyword search, or you can search by category. The first search I performed was on the word “butterfly.” There are 161 records, most of which have clear images of nice butterflies which would translate easily into embroidery designs.

Some of the butterflies are more complex than others. They are all black and white, which might pose a problem for choosing correct colors for embroidering.

But even if you were to pick a not-so-real color scheme, you could end up with a great embroidered butterfly, thanks to the clarity of the images.

I’m a fan of this particular butterfly, which is the Papilio Machaon – a swallowtail. If I were going to embroider it, though, I’d want to be pretty precise with the color scheme, and there’s really nothing easier than coming up with the colors of the butterfly – simply do a Google image search. I came up with a pretty good image, which I then modified in PhotoShop.

If I wanted to translate this into a pattern for embroidery, I’d take my line drawing in black and white, trace it on good tracing paper, then go at it with colored pencils. I’d then thread match, and I’d be set to reproduce the swallowtail in thread.

Christmas is coming up. I seached the Clipart ETC database for holly, and here is a beautiful specimen that could be embroidered a number of ways – by outlining, or by filling with long and short stitch shading. Whatever way you want to reproduce it in thread, it’s a lovely pattern!

I’m a fan of historical needlework, so I searched “Bayeux Tapestry” on a whim, and… here’s a great image of one of the boats!! Perfect for reproducing a little bit of Bayeux.

On a whim, I searched the word “border.” I came up with some beauties!

And, I’m a huge fan of daffodils, so I tried that term, too. Voila!

Clipart ETC hosted by the University of South Florida is an absolute gem of a source for embroidery design inspiration! Bookmark it!!


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(7) Comments

  1. Gail, Kathy – glad you like the resource! I really love it – I spent a good hour last night searching and perusing, and on every search term I put in, something good came up! Search “banner,” for example – some really pretty designs!

    Kathy, thanks for the links! They’re excellent! If you want to send more along for readers, you can e-mail me at mary[at]needlenthread[dot]com – I’ll add them to my list of online embroidery patterns!

    Thanks again!

  2. Mary, do you know of any place I can find the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo” printed like they were on old fashioned Holy cards in a rather elaborate manner. I decorated my sister’s house at Christmas & made a garland for the arch into the dining room. Her busband wanted me to make a banner with those words and I just felt I couldn’t do it. Ever since then I have wanted to try it but can’t find a sample – even a very small one I could work from to either paint one or sew one. Any ideas? Thank you.

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